by Valerie Valentine
Survivors of gun violence will view this show as crucial. Their families will, too. Curated by MCAD student Yeng Lor, this show takes on the issue of guns, concealment laws, widespread fear, and the aftermath of an actual shooting. Not a whimsical or fun show; the enormous crowd was quite somber and reflective at the reception. If you are pro-gun, you should probably consider these images.
Photographic portraits by Stephanie Avera and Robert Drea put actual faces on
gun violence. These artists sought to document specific shooting incidents;
the circumstances vary, but the survivors were uniformly injured. A law enforcement
officer was disabled in a shootout in Edina, MN. Mike Blood and the criminal
both had guns. Even though he had a weapon, he was still injured. A 15- year-old
is shot on a street corner by a submachine gun. An innocent woman gets shot
with an AK47 by her fiancé, who thinks she is an intruder in the night.
A young girl gets pummeled when she opens the door at the wrong moment during
a drive-by shooting.
guns are around, people will use them. Their only purpose is to injure or kill.
In the wrong hands, they are deadly. And how can anyone know whose panicked
hands can control that trigger, until they’re in the situation?
Jane Powers’ installations of ‘site-sight-cite’ examines implications
of gun violence more abstractly. By disassembling the vocabulary of war culture,
we can look at the situation with fresh eyes. One piece invites the viewer into
a dark room, where on video a man rubs his bare chest, while a delicate facsimile
of a human lung glows above it, reminding peole of their own fragile mortality.
Another closet-like space features a swivelling pistol in front of a TV screen
flashing statements from politicians; the barrel of the gun is unavoidably in
the viewer’s face; its implication is that nobody is exempt from the reach
of the effects of firearms, especially since we are all represented by the same
Helen Franzen’s acrylic painting on canvas responds to the ubiquitous
signs, “Guns Banned on these Premises.” Her well-rendered self-portrait
reads, “Helen doesn’t allow anyone to shoot her.” She’s
pointing to the fact that nobody can predict what a violent person will do;
a sign will surely not stop someone who sets out to do harm. I admire the idea
that if we confidently hold in our minds that we will not get shot, we won’t.
A sweet sentiment, and appropriately tongue-in-cheek, considering the context.
This show is only up until Aug. 27. There’s too much good work here to
miss, from the photos, paintings and installation mentioned, to collage, mixed
media, animation, digital prints and more. Whatever your feelings about arms
rights, this exhibit presents some hardcore evidence of firepower’s fallout.
Banned On These Premises: Artists Take On Gun Violence runs through Aug.
27 at MCAD Gallery 148., 2701 Stevens Ave. S., Mpls. 612-874-3793.